To think that you can keep a secret from an inquisitive six-year-old is to be a fool. When I folded my tools slightly over a month ago, I imagined there would be no need to offer an explanation to my daughter Xena but I had clearly underestimated her wit. My routine did not change much as I would still wake up at 4.45am, head to the gym then drop the kids off to school at 7.15am. However, her alarm bells went off on day one.
“Is your boss going to be happy with your outfit?” She pried as she slipped on her school shoes. I was standing by the water dispenser refilling my jar in a bid to hit my daily three litre target.
“What outfit?” Obviously, I was still not ready to let her in on the developments on my side. It felt really awkward to have to lie about something I had always been eager to engage her in.
“Are you supposed to be in this sweaty pants or shouldn’t you be in a dress and your extremely high heels?” She pressed on, pointing at my gym attire.
“Oohh, that. I decided to drop you off first then come back home and get ready for work.” I lied.
“Ok. Just make sure you don’t get late or your boss will be really mad.”
At first, my lie did the job and for the next couple of days, our conversations were pretty normal. The first day I picked her up from school, she trotted excitedly towards my car.
“You managed to get time off work? Thank you mama!” She exuberantly jumped onto the back left passenger seat.
“How was your day?” I quickly changed the topic before she dug deeper.
“Today in jewellery art class we made these bracelets. I made it small enough to fit Xia’s hand.” She stretched out her hand to reveal this scintillating bracelet with white and turquoise pearls. I love how passionate she is about making jewellery. She has an enviable collection since two years ago.
“That’s the world’s most stunning bracelet and it was kind of you to make it for your sister. When do I also get something from your art class?”
“But I already made you so many necklaces that you don’t even wear!”
On other days, she would excitedly tell me about new developments in her role in the school nativity play. There are apparently ten narrators and she’s the fifth one with about 56 words to speak. The last update regarding the play went like this:
“Guess what additional role I got?” Her eyes sparkled as she grinned from ear to ear.
“You are now Mary mother of Jesus?”
“Nope, that’s Jaideep’s role. Try again.”
“The animals are played by the younger babies.” She offered.
“I wonder why!” I giggled at my small chaff.
“So are you going to guess my new role or should I just tell you?” She could not wait to make the big reveal.
“You’ve taken the role of all the ten narrators?”
“Oh dear. We are going to be at this for the next 10 years! Let me just tell you.”
At this point we had just got home and I was driving into the garage, so I parked the car and turned around to look at her.
She jumped out of the car and got straight to it.
“I will be the one to close off the play by saying THE END while doing the final bow like this.” She held the side of her dress with the right hand and pulled it sideways as she went down in a bow.
I was impressed by how seriously she took her role and how much joy it brought her.
This reminded me of when she was three years old and we were not sure what extracurricular activities would interest her. Her class teacher advised us to sign her up for as many as we possibly could afford and she would eventually drop what she didn’t like and pursue what she loved, without any coercion.
At first, we signed her up for ballet, tennis, monkeynastix and jewellery arts but by the second year, she dropped the first two. She told us she disliked tennis because the racket was too heavy and when we asked her to hang in there for the remainder of the term, we were informed that she would hide whenever the tennis teacher came calling. It reminded me how in high school, I would hide under the desk with a book of Solving Maths during evening sports or cross-country running sessions, yet here I am willingly waking up at 4.45am to keep fit. How things change. Later on, her interests moved to more outdoorsy and artistic stuff. Football, skating, jewellery arts and LAMDA.
On one of the weekday mornings as I was backing out of the driveway, Xena was at it again.
“Mama, are you the best at your office?”
“Why do you ask?”
“I am just wondering because you said we have to be the best in everything we do.”
“Well, I am the best in some areas but not in all. You know like how you score 99 in math and 90 in literacy? Same thing.”
“So are you revising really hard to score 99 in everything?”
She then went into deep thought, trying to process what we had just discussed. It was as if she was the president and was pressed to figure out how she was going to get the country out of its debt trap.
As we were driving into school, I heaved a sigh of relief. I could drive back home with my music on full blast without having to be grilled by a six-year-old who made me think very carefully about the things I said to her, because at this stage, my word was gospel truth and it shaped her thoughts, ideals and actions in ways that scared me. And also, because she would always use them against me!
But just before I parked the car on the side of the road, she brought out her punch line.
“Do you think my dad’s boss is happy with his work?”
“I believe so, yeah.”
“But how come he makes him work late on some days and last time he refused to let him go on vacation?”
I went quiet.
“How come even when I go to my dad’s office I don’t see the bosses desk? Does it mean he is invisible, like God?”
It is obvious that my daughter has such a petrified and misconceived outlook of bosses and workplaces. I think organisations and self-employed people alike should have a “bring your child to work” day every quarter to demystify the many myths that they may have about jobs and employers. I also think that the mister’s boss should make a point of appeasing Xena’s spirits.
“You can discuss that in the evening with your dad as you will be late for school.” I said to her as I walked her sister and her to class.
“Ok. One last thing. Now that you don’t go to work anymore, how about you come watch me skating in the evening?” She said nonchalantly as she trotted ahead.
I was caught by surprise. All this time, I thought my lie had sufficed. We definitely have to talk.
**Apologies for the late post. It was ready to run at 8.00am but our host servers were undergoing maintenance all morning. Also, thank you for all the warm wishes on the previous post. I will respond to each comment today. Lastly, I can’t wait to start the giveaway season soon! So many new brands have come on board. Are you excited?**